Saturday, March 14, 2009

Molecules of Emotion

I recently finished reading Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert PHD. This book was interesting but it took a while to unfold. I found the science side interesting and although I understood the basic concepts the author was describing I have to admit most of it was over my head. This book would have been more difficult to follow had the author not shared her personal experiences about her career. I thought her stories about the politics of research and her unfair treatment due to being a female scientist were much more interesting than the specific scientific discoveries and accomplishments featured in the book. I was also surprised to learn the field of science could be as competitive and as professional sports or an episode of Survivor.

Due to the title of the book I was expecting more information about emotions and human health, but found myself wondering when she was going to address the practical application of this topic. By the time I was half way through the book I still wasn't sure if I had purchased the right book. The book highlights her quest for several scientific discoveries in the field of psychoneuroimmunology. I was impressed with the amount of persistence Pert showed as she consistently came across obstacles and setbacks prior to each break through. Some of these were scientific setbacks but many were due to working with other people and having to deal with the politics of each institution or organization she worked for. I found it ironic that despite the competitive nature of her work there was quite a bit of collaboration and cooperation that helped propel these scientists on to their next hypothesis or discovery.

It wasn't until about two thirds into the book that the practical application of mind body medicine was emphasized and that was what I was looking for. As the book progresses, Pert tells of her "conversion" from a strict modern scientist to her acceptance of traditional and Eastern mind/body/spirit practices. I think her endorsement of many of these practices lends some much needed credibility to Alternative medicine since she was such an accomplished scientist coming from the other end of the spectrum. Overall I found this book to be enlightening even though it didn't address the aspects I was most interested immediately.